Our nurse said to me, “Do you understand how close you are to meeting your baby?” I paused, thinking to myself, “why no, I don’t.” I settled on a side-lying position on my left, with my right leg in the air and bent. Frank stood to my left, helping to hold my right leg up. The nurse joked that her shift would end in an hour, in an effort to encourage me to get the baby out before then. I took that seriously and used it as more motivation.
|one minute old|
She stayed on my chest for a while (maybe an hour?), covered with a warm blanket. It was amazing to see her pecking and rooting. I breastfed her. We snuggled and watched her closely, in awe.
|30 minutes old|
Elsie was 19.5″ long and 7lb 7oz, a really average size. The doc had thought she’d be much bigger, being so far overdue. Perhaps this was her “due date” all along.
We were a family.
It was Thursday, March 17, 2011. We spent that night and the following night in the hospital, having a crash-course in baby 101.
|one day old|
Saturday, once we were cleared, we left to return to our home. Forever changed.
|first car ride|
|four days old|
|eight days old|
|two weeks old|
I wanted to share my story in hopes it might help you in some way, whether you’re planning a natural birth or not. In hindsight, here are the tips and lessons I found most important.
- All of the preparation we did helped. I was so glad we had done the classes and read the books. We were planning and hoping for a natural birth, but also felt prepared if meds or surgery were needed.
- I wish I had not focused on my “due date”. Mentally it was so difficult for me to feel OK about going “so far passed it”. I use quotations because a due date is such a subjective thing. It’s impossible to know exactly the date, and even if you did, the statistics of women who actually give birth on their due date are very low. It’s very common for first pregnancies to go passed the estimated date.
- Even though I was two weeks passed that “due date” my body was primed for labor. I truly believe the visualizations I did and the six sessions of acupuncture helped my body begin labor, in a sense, without me really knowing it.
- I had watched online videos that our hospital birth class had given us access to, demonstrating the changes in the cervix as labor progresses. This helped me form an accurate picture in my mind. (Seconds 14-25 in this video are similar)
- When I was in the tub and made the mental shift to welcome the contractions and open up to them, it was truly transformative. I believe that’s why my labor progressed so quickly. Rather than bracing myself against the pain, my surrender to it helped me move through it more quickly. This is such a parallel to any trial in life. What a miracle that lesson was.
- Hiring a doula turned out to be a great decision. She was a calm, knowledgeable presence throughout the process. We hadn’t planned on hiring one, but as the end of my pregnancy drew closer, we decided to do it. She was a great support through those last couple of weeks, answering questions and making suggestions. I highly recommend having one.
How is it that an entire year has passed? I am so blessed.